Pathologists and research scientists spend a great deal of time poring over histological samples on microscope slides. In a field containing tens of thousands of cells, these researchers might find a small section of the sample that warrants further study. For example, a pathologist examining a tissue biopsy might find a small colony of abnormal cells in a field of otherwise normal cells. Fortunately, these scientists can retrieve such a small colony of cells, or even a single cell, from the tissue using laser microdissection (LCM) instruments. The advantage of microdissection is that it greatly enhances experimental signal-to-noise ratios by allowing scientists to focus only on the cells of interest.

LCM devices sandwich the tissue sample between the microscope slide and an inert membrane. Most instruments then direct the laser onto the section of tissue to be dissected, fusing it to the membrane, and enabling it to be captured in...

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